TBS Post 03052015You’ve done everything right as a producer. You’ve given your customer compelling advertising, stellar reputation, and third-party endorsements to put them in a positive state of mind even before they purchase your product or service. They anticipate a rewarding customer experience.

Then you’ve delivered that experience. Your product was in stock, priced right, and provided exceptional value. But then, something went wrong. Maybe it was a quality control problem. Maybe it was the way the customer was treated by a clerk. Or maybe it was just a misunderstanding. So they called your 800 number to seek a solution.

All that great work you and your team have done to create exceptional customer experience is suddenly at risk. Your customers don’t judge you so much by how well you do when you are doing good as by how well you do when you’re doing badly.

But when you’re doing “badly” who do they call? They call your customer relations people, and how your customers are treated on that critical phone call can make or break their opinion, their loyalty, and their message to friends, relatives and colleagues. Because they have been advocates for your brand, now their personal reputation is on the line and they feel obligated to spread the word about how you handled their problem.

How your customers are treated begins with how you treat your Customer Relations people. Do you see them as “Customer Care” or “Complaint Resolution?” Are they relegated to a lowly status near the bottom of the organization, or are they elevated as the source of current feedback from the customer to keep your products and services relevant?

We think Customer Care is where the rubber meets the road. Complaining customers are gold mines of information and the perfect opportunity to turn disappointment into advocacy. They are already fans and believe that their favorite brand will make things right. Remember, for every one customer who takes their precious time to complain, there are thousands who don’t. They simply buy your competitors’ product. The Customer Care Department makes the most powerful lasting impression, and the customer information they collect should guide your production and marketing people.

So what is your complaining customers’ 800 number experience? Do they spend what seems like an eternity making selections, being shunted around, and repeatedly giving personal data to a recording that never gets to the live representative? Are they abused by long wait times, wrong transfers and drop offs? When we call an 800 number with a complaint, we hope they really are recording it and more importantly, top management listens to not just the dialogue, but the transfers, holds, and drop offs. Chances are you’ll never hear how many of your customers get so frustrated that they just give up because that is not measured.

But when a real person, who understands how important the call is to their company, takes it on the second ring, the results can be much more effective than any advertising. For one thing, you know the caller is outspoken. For another, you know they have already chosen your product. If they are treated like VIP’s, they will sing your praises like never before. And nothing speaks more loudly about a great customer experience than the way your company handled their problem.

Dollar for dollar we think your investment in quick response telephony, adequate call center staffing, generous credits, and solid lines of communication from customer service to production and marketing are your best investments in a positive customer experience.

 

Who We Are.

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact sales@thebarefootspirit.com.